Penn State Hockey Heads to Alaska for Weekend Tournament
After a hard-fought tie and a record-breaking victory last weekend, Penn State’s hockey team will be playing in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush this weekend, hosted by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. No. 19 UAF (1-0-1), the University of Alaska Anchorage (2-0-0), and the Air Force Academy (1-1-0) are also participating in the early-season tournament, and Penn State will compete in two games against the Alaskan-based teams. The Nittany Lions play Alaska Anchorage at 9:07 p.m. Friday, then UAF at 11:07 p.m. Saturday before returning to Hockey Valley.
The tournament also represents a homecoming of sorts for Penn State forwards Eric Scheid and Casey Bailey, as well as head coach Guy Gadowsky.
Originally hailing from Blaine, Minnesota, Scheid spent his freshman year of college playing hockey at Alaska Anchorage. He played in 30 games, leading the team’s freshmen with six goals and 15 points. Scheid then spent a year in the USHL before his redshirt sophomore season at Penn State, where he led the Nittany Lions with 11 goals and 20 points.
Scheid’s time spent with Alaska Anchorage was three years ago, but he is still familiar with some former teammates.
“I know a couple guys I played with and lived with,” Scheid said at Monday’s press conference. “It’ll be exciting to play against them.”
Having played on lines with Scott Conway, Jonathan Milley, and Dylan Richard this season, Scheid has already registered one goal on an impressive 10 shots, and will be looking to make a bigger impact on the scoring sheet this weekend.
Bailey is an anomaly as far as Penn State’s typical recruitment plan goes, as he was born and raised in Anchorage. He attended the Calgary Flames’ development camp prior to this season, and has already recorded a goal and two assists playing on the team’s best line so far, with David Goodwin and Taylor Holstrom.
The junior has been looking forward to the trip since it was announced his freshman year.
“The most exciting part is having close family and friends watch me play hockey at a high level,” Bailey said. “A lot of close family friends that don’t make the trip [to Penn State] get to [see me play] this time.”
He also estimated it has been six or seven years since the last “big-time” game he played in Alaska, and about 50 friends and family members have tickets to see him this weekend. They will be hoping to see Bailey continue his early-season momentum in this home-state tournament.
Gadowsky’s five-year tenure as the coach of Alaska Fairbanks started in 1999. He was the figurehead of a rebuilding program, leading to his induction into the Nanook Hall of Fame.
When asked if he was looking forward to the trip, he responded, “It is a fun experience because the people there have been so great. The community there is so awesome. It’s similar to what we have at Penn State — they rally around the team.”
He also admitted he was more confident in his knowledge of Fairbanks than Anchorage, recognizing their recent win over traditional powerhouse Wisconsin.
Regardless of what side he’s coaching for, the crowd in Fairbanks should celebrate the return of one of the most significant figures in its recent history.
Coming off a 7-1, take-no-prisoners performance against the UConn Huskies, Penn State has a lot of momentum to carry into the weekend. However, the same can be said for the teams it will play, as UAF recently upset the Wisconsin Badgers in the season’s opening weekend and hasn’t lost a game in regulation, while UAA has two wins in two games.
As far as the trip to Alaska goes, the team is excited through and through. Before the trip, Bailey gave a presentation to the team to let it know how to approach the four-hour time difference. He noted that daylight and temperature won’t be a striking difference at this time of year, and he let the team know that the trip isn’t an acceptable excuse to play subpar hockey.
The second weekend of the season presents a great opportunity for the Nittany Lions to find some chemistry, and hopefully return to the continental U.S. with an early accolade. To do so, they will have to either win both games or earn a win and a tie, and have the rest of the tournament play out beneficially. In the most recent USCHO poll, Alaska Fairbanks gained 113 points from the voters. Alaska Anchorage garnered 47 points, and Penn State came in as a serious underdog with six points.